High-availability is one of the key components of ensuring business continuity. Without it, downtime is going to be a foregone conclusion. By engineering solutions where high-availability is part of the overall build process leads to environments where business-critical data is protected from hardware and other failures in the infrastructure that leads to downtime. This ultimately affects the SLAs for business stakeholders.
Microsoft Hyper-V has many components of the solution that allow businesses to build Hyper-V environments that are resilient to failures and helps to ensure high-availability.
In this post, we will take a look at 5 ways to increase Hyper-V VM high-availability and see what factors contribute to the overall availability of business-critical data in Hyper-V environments.
5 Ways to Increase Hyper-V VM High-Availability
When thinking about engineering Hyper-V environments with high-availability mechanisms, this means that in all aspects of the system, the Hyper-V environment is able to withstand failures without affecting the overall availability of the business-critical data.
This underscores the need to engineer any virtualized system, including Hyper-V, in such a way that there are no single points of failure to affect the availability of data.
The following 5 ways help to protect the availability of the Hyper-V VMs and allows redundancy in data accessibility.
- Use Hyper-V Cluster configurations
- Ensure redundancy in critical components
- Use Guest Clustering
- Replicate Hyper-V VMs
- Use a Modern Hyper-V Data Protection Solution
Let’s explore each of these 5 ways to increase Hyper-V high-availability and what they entail.
Use Hyper-V Cluster Configurations
Running production workloads on a single Hyper-V host is not something you want to do for a highly-available infrastructure. With a single host, if any one component of the host fails and the host goes down, all the virtual machines running on the single host will be affected. The damage path with a single Hyper-V host is wide. Using only a single host means that you are counting on disaster recovery (recovering your data) and not high-availability (making data fault tolerant) to recover/continue accessing your data.
Hyper-V Clusters are built on top of the Windows Failover Clustering technology and allows running Hyper-V virtual machines on top of the Windows Failover Clustering service. This allows the Hyper-V virtual machines to inherit the high-availability and failover mechanisms inherent with the Hyper-V cluster configuration.
For high-availability, running Hyper-V Cluster configurations is the only way to achieve the type of fault tolerance needed in production Hyper-V environments. If a single host goes down, the VMs running on the host are shifted to a healthy host and availability is resumed for those virtual machines.
Ensure Redundancy in Critical Components
Another basic rule of high-availability in the Hyper-V environment involves ensuring redundancy in critical components. This includes making sure there are redundant power supplies, network cards, “X-ed” out network switches, RAID configurations for data drives, storage controllers, etc. Any critical area that can affect the operation and data paths critical for host availability and by extension, VM availability, must be engineered for redundancy.
Most hardware configurations from server, storage, and network vendors typically have the basic redundancies built into the solution, however, these must be configured and implemented correctly to ensure no single point of failure will affect Hyper-V VM high-availability.
Use Guest Clustering
When the high-availability of applications is of utmost importance and the downtime of VM restarting on a healthy host after a failure cannot be tolerated, Guest Clustering may be an option to be considered for Hyper-V VM high-availability.
Guest clustering involves configuring a “nested” Windows Failover Cluster inside the guest virtual machines running inside a Hyper-V environment.
Instead of having a single Microsoft SQL Server VM running inside a clustered Hyper-V environment, you would have at least a two-node Windows Failover Cluster running inside the guest virtual machines of a Hyper-V environment so that if a single physical Hyper-V host fails and one of the nested SQL Server cluster host VMs is taken down with it, there is still another nested SQL Server host that can quickly assume the SQL Server application. In this way, the SQL Server may not so much as drop a ping once the role is failed over to the healthy host. This alleviates any downtime included in a VM restarting on a healthy Hyper-V host after a failure.
Replicate Hyper-V VMs
Replicating your Hyper-V VMs ensures that you have redundancy at a site level. For most environments, organizations will replicate production-critical virtual machines from a production environment to a DR environment. This process takes an exact copy of the running Hyper-V virtual machine and recreates it over in the DR site. If the primary production site fails in any way, workloads can failover to the DR site, resuming operations using the replicated VMs.
Hyper-V has a replication mechanism built into the platform called Hyper-V replication that allows replicating your Hyper-V VMs to a secondary and even more locations.
Use a Modern Hyper-V Data Protection Solution
While data protection is most often classified with disaster recovery and not high-availability, it must be a component of your overall business-continuity plan and as a way to bolster the high-availability mechanisms already mentioned to ensure access to data.
Vembu BDR Suite v4.0.1 is a powerful data protection solution that allows businesses many great features to protect and ensure availability of their Hyper-V VM data, no matter what the fault, failure, or disaster. Vembu BDR Suite properly protects Hyper-V at the Hyper-V Cluster level and also ensures robust replication features, and many abilities to migrate, transform, and otherwise make use of Hyper-V VM backup data.
Vembu provides arguably one of the best data transformation solutions on the market today by allowing instant migration of data from Hyper-V, VMware, and KVM formats. Vembu’s powerful Hyper-V cluster-aware protection allows effectively protecting Hyper-V availability and ensuring access to Hyper-V virtual machine data, regardless of any limitations in the Hyper-V natively to do so.
Vembu Hyper-V backup features:
- Hyper-V Cluster data protection
- Shared VHDX backups
- Changed Block Tracking Incremental backups
- Quick VM recovery
- File level recovery
- Application-aware backups and item-level recovery
- Support for CSV, S2D, and SMB share
- Cross-platform migration
In looking at the 5 ways to increase Hyper-V VM Performance, these include giving attention to many of the basics. Running Hyper-V in a cluster configuration, ensuring redundancy in critical components, making use of guest clusters, replicating Hyper-V VMs, and using modern data protection solutions such as Vembu BDR Suite, all play a part in ensuring Hyper-V VMs are highly-available and data is protected.
By giving attention to these and other critical aspects of redundancy and fault-tolerance, businesses can ensure business-critical workloads are protected, redundant, and resilient to failures and other unforeseen disasters.